February ’24 – My Favourite Cookbooks Of The Month

a selection of jars of seasonal homegrown preserves

The garden is well established, I thought I would be planning the next stage of planting, but I quickly realised that I don’t want to waste this new abundance of food. So this month I’ve been focussing on preserving. There’s more food than we can eat each day, it’s amazing! For February ’24 – my favourite cookbooks of the month are all about making food last, preserving the harvest in a variety of ways to enjoy throughout the year.

I have dabbled in making flavoured sweet violet vinegar, pickling rowan berry capers and walnuts, these ingredients were all foraged. Mushroom ketchup is a umami flavour bomb, it’s our homemade alternative to tamari (or Worcestershire) sauce. Previously, I’ve made date syrup as a whole food sweetener which I then used in our new elderberry and homegrown tomato barbecue sauce. But now I need to focus on what’s coming out of the garden, there’s so much ready to eat and it’s been less than four months since we started it! I have already made piccalilli from my favourite recipe in Mr Wilkinsons book, and a few jars of zucchini relish and some pickled turnips. But I’m always I am interested in new recipes and combinations for pickling and fermenting. After this I plan to try making dehydrated powders and teas as well as syrups, vinegars and reductions – I’m hoping to bottle some flavours of summer.

These books are neither vegetarian or vegan, but they all treat vegetables as more than just sides. With simple adaptations some recipes can be easily ‘veganised’, but it’s the chapters on vegetable dishes and preserving that made me choose these books.

Bar Tartine, Techniques and Recipes – Nicholas Balla & Courtney Burns

The book cover of Bar Tartine Techniques and recipes

This book stands out for its unique approach to utilising every part of its ingredients. Sustainability and creativity are at heart of their cooking philosophy with a focus on inventive preservation techniques. Divided into 2 parts, part one covers techniques, homemade spices and powders, pickles and ferments, and syrups and beverages. Part 2 – recipes to inspire and incorporate the techniques described in Part 1.

This book is full of knowledge for both the home and professional cook.

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest – Carol W Costenbader

the cover of the cookbook The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W Costenbader

Comprehensive and practical is the perfect description for this book. This book is particularly useful for beginners, it’s full of handy tips, troubleshooting advice and useful charts with step-by-step instructions that make even the most daunting preservation processes seem manageable. Covering the process of canning ( preserving food in glass jars) in detail as well as drying, freezing and pickling.

From classic jams and jellies to inventive chutneys and relishes, even how to preserve complete meals. There’s something for everyone who is interested in preserving food that is a joy to eat

South – Sean Brock

The book cover of the cookbook South by Sean Brock

Chef Brock takes inspiration from his grandmothers garden and his devotion to continuing the rich culinary cuisine of the American South. Sean shares inspiring stories and interesting histories, while paying homage to the South’s culinary traditions. This book is a celebration the region’s diverse flavours, chapters on vegetables and sides, grains, and preserving, not just food for the party, but heritage foods for the future. All skills that were once necessary for a varied diet year round.

Sean Brock was featured on Netflix’s ‘The Chefs Table’ along with Virgilio Martinez whose book Lima I featured in the November book list.

Foundations of Flavor: The Noma Guide to Fermentation – René Redzepi and David Zilber

The book cover of The Roma Guide to Fermentation

This book an essential reference for anyone interested in the science and art of fermentation. The recipes are not only innovative but also deeply rooted in the philosophy of using fermentation to enhance and preserve the natural taste of ingredients, many of which are fungi and vegetable based. Noma is known for its innovative approach to cuisine, particularly its focus on local ingredients and reinvention of Nordic culinary traditions.

The pages will demystify the complex process of fermentation, making it accessible to home cooks. Covering a wide range of fermentation techniques, including lacto-ferments, kombuchas, vinegars, and misos. Each chapter contains detailed instructions, scientific explanations and practical advice.

Elderberry Wine Balsamic is the first thing on my list as elderberries are ripening on the trees as I write.

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